If you’re a dedicated Loose Women fan, then you’ll know that presenter Nadia Sawalha is famed for her positivity, optimism, and infectious sense of humour.
However, while it can be easy to assume that someone in the spotlight is living a perfect and happy life, you can never truly know what someone is going through behind closed doors.
And now, in a powerful Facebook video, Sawalha has revealed that she has, despite her upbeat attitude on the ITV show, been suffering from female hair loss – and it has severely affected her emotional wellbeing.
Speaking directly to the camera from her bathroom, Sawalha explains that her hair – a thick head of brunette curls – had always been her “crowning glory”.
“It was my favourite thing about myself,” said the 52-year-old, her voice breaking on the words.
“My hair is not like that anymore, my hair really started to change after I had my kids. Bloody kids. I lost a lot like a lot of new mums do but it started to change a lot, the texture…having gone from naturally curly hair. It would go frizzy.
“But when I started going through perimenopause I think I lost a third of my hair.”
The perimenopause, of course, is the phase which takes place before ovulation stops.
“People always say my hair is so thick and amazing,” said Sawalha, before lifting up her locks to reveal the bare patches on her scalp. “[But] this is where it’s balding. I’m losing it all over.”
Wiping away her tears, the TV presenter continued: “It sounds awful saying it as people lose all of their hair to alopecia or cancer treatment but it doesn’t make it any easier, the fact that I’m losing my hair.
“[So] I went to a top hair specialist, who told me that I have the balding gene.”
Sawalha admitted that she didn’t know women could carry the balding gene, explaining that she had been shocked when the doctor “drew a picture of my hair follicles” and showed her where they had closed up in some areas.
“Sometimes I think I shouldn’t be ungrateful,” she said. “[But] it makes me really sad.
“It just makes me feel old and I know I should feel grateful, I do try to and I do say I’m grateful but it doesn’t mean that I don’t miss my hair terribly.”
Sawalha’s video has made a huge impact on social media, and a number of women have stepped forward to share their own hair loss stories – as well as offer the ITV presenter their support.
“You know what?” wrote one. “You’re beautiful [and] your hair doesn't make you, your heart does.”
Another added: “Bless you Nadia. So many women have to face this and you do not realise how much you have helped others by being so honest and showing your feelings about this.”
“That was really admirable of you to admit that,” praised another fan.
One added: “We all look on the positive side but it's OK to also feel how you do and to allow yourself to grieve for what you once had.
“Don't ever stop being yourself and thank you for taking us on your journey with you. I think you are amazing.”
There are lots of different types of hair loss: it can take the form of “thinning” or involve a total loss of hair, it can be gradual or sudden, and it can affect both men and women of all ages.
While the NHS offers a lot of information on the causes and possible treatments, they stress that it’s incredibly important to address the psychological impact of your hair loss – and they have shared a number of self-care tips to help you come to terms with what’s happened, accept your altered appearance, and boost your confidence.
These include talking about your hair loss with loved ones, or, failing that, joining a support group. For those who feel unable to speak to someone face-to-face about what they’re going through, the NHS advises going online and joining Alopecia UK's discussion forum: here, you will be able to talk to others going through the same experiences as you.
Images: Rex Features/Facebook